Thursday, December 20, 2007

December 21, 2007
WAIS Divide camp Antarctica

Time: 6 am
Latitude: 79° 28.10’ S
Longitude: 112° 3.56’ W
Elevation: 1820 m (5919’)
Wind speed: calm
Wind Chill:
Visibility: miles
Clouds: clear
Wind direction:
Relative Humidity: %
Barometric Pressure: rising
Breakfast: Eggs, pancakes, oatmeal, toast, biscuits, bacon
Lunch: sliced lunch meats, chicken soup
Supper: BBQ chicken, chicken tempah, mushroom soup, steak fries, tater tots, green beans, red jello, coconut cake, pumpkin pie

The way the day is working around here I may need to add blogs before morning weather reports are in so I will add them for today etc as soon as I can.

Last night the storm cleared away by 7pm. Suddenly the camp emerged from the storm and you could see from the galley about ¼ mile to the airfield and to the drill dome about ¼ mile in the other
direction. As I mentioned yesterday, there is something very exciting
about only being able to see flag to flag as you make your way to your
tent but it would get very old very fast. Everyone is back to their
usual game which is heavy on digging out. It is truly amazing how snow
drifts. We have about a dozen yellow Arctic Oven tents and each one is
oriented slightly differently in respect to the wind direction. Only
one tent actually had snow inside and most only had minor drifting
around the edges. Around my tent the wind scoured what looks like a
moat (no alligators). The snow surface around my tent is about 2 feet
higher than the floor level of the tent so I have to step down to get
in to my tent. It was actually produced by a combination of scouring
and snow accumulation that caused the snow bank/moat around the tent.
Though out the whole storm there must have been only a couple of inches
of real snow accumulation. The rest was from somewhere else in West
Antarctica and blown here for our amusement.

Work will continue
today in the drill dome. The drillers will complete assembly of the
tower on schedule in a day or two. The actual drilling pipe and motor
are 15 meters long (45 feet) from the bottom of the drill teeth to the
top of the pipe. That includes the drill motor that turns the bit, the
pump that circulates the fluid in the hole, drill stabilizers, and the
rest of the assemblage. The fluid is need to both keep the hole from
closing up as the surrounding ice pushes into the open space and to
“float” the “ice dust” produced by the drill to the surface where it
will be collected. The drillsonde (as that 15 m of drill pipe is
called) is then lowered down the hole as an ice core is drilled and
collected by a cable that is about ½ inch thick. As the ice core is
drilled, at about a meter at each time, the hole then gets deeper and
deeper and the drill has to be lowered further each time. Basically,
the drill goes into the hole, drills, and collects an ice core about a
meter (3 feet) long. Then that core is brought to the surface by the
cable and winch and moved to the core processing room. Then the drill
is lowered back down into the hole to collect the next meter of ice
core. Using this process we will eventually, after three years, get to
3,5oo meters deep. Each layer of snow that has fallen over the last
100,000+ years will eventually end up in a core box and shipped to the
National Ice Core Laboratory in Denver Colorado for further processing.
The diameter of the ice core collected using this method is
approximately 12 cm (5 “) wide. Each 1 m x 12 cm ice core contains
enough information for the dozens of scientific investigations that
will happen through theWAIS Divide ice coring project to further understand climate change.

An image of the drill sonde will be posted on this blog eventually (depending on Internet access) and on the web site.

Right now it is calm and clear. The snow in my tent has melted to form my new indoor pool. I will have to take care of that later today before it soaks my gear. We are really looking forward to a calm day around here.

Total accumulation was between 2 and 4 inches, but the accumulation is very hard to measure since it is difficult to determine if the snow is all wind blown or some of it is new snow.
** eventually we will link a digital file of all the weather data on the website so that you can view all the daily weather in one graph.

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